Sunday 15 September 2019

'Another BBC love-in with a low-grade terrorist hitman'

Norman Tebbit

TODAY, the BBC will give another half hour of Radio 4 time to yet another love-in with a well-known, low-grade terrorist hitman and make fools of his victims.

Patrick Magee planted the bomb intended to murder Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and as many of her Cabinet as he could.

He failed in his main purpose, succeeding only in killing five of my friends, grievously wounding my Cabinet colleague, John Wakeham, crippling my wife and severely injuring several others including myself.

In more robust days a man would have been hanged for far less a crime than that, but even in these days when the law, lawyers and judges concern themselves more with the welfare of the guilty than exacting retribution on behalf of their victims, Mr Magee was given several life sentences.

It was, of course, not long before he was sprung from jail alongside a host of his fellow killers during the remorseless appeasement of IRA/Sinn Fein by Mo Mowlam and Tony Blair. Now it seems we are to be encouraged not merely to accept Mr Magee as a respectable human but to admire and - most sickeningly of all - to like him.

The programme in which this murderer will appear is The Reunion. It sounds nice enough, rather like Friends Reunited on the internet. Perhaps only the BBC could envisage uniting a killer with the daughter of one of his victims, my friend Tony Berry, and one of those who escaped, Harvey Thomas.

What a pity Dr Harold Shipman is dead. Putting him back in his surgery for consultation with the families of those he killed and a survivor or two of his medications would have made such a contribution to the BBC's mission to inform and entertain.

But perhaps professional hitmen working for a political party have a special place in society, elevated as celebrities by the debased standards of the BBC.

To be fair to the programme makers, I was invited to their jolly morning to swap anecdotes on the rival attractions of being buried under a few tons of masonry and rubble for a few hours, or being detained in a prison for a very few years. I could perhaps have asked Mr Magee for a goodwill message to my wife, whose life sentence to imprisonment in a wheelchair has not yet been commuted to some lesser inconvenience.

Had I taken part in this happy reunion party it would have given the ever fair-minded Miss Sue MacGregor the opening to invite me to forgive Mr Magee as Tony Berry's daughter and Harvey Thomas have done.

But I am weary of explaining that forgiveness is not a one-way street. The transgressor cannot be forgiven unless he acknowledges the evil of what he has done, and shows remorse and repentance.

Mr Magee has had his chance to qualify for forgiveness. He could have given evidence which would have put the godfathers of IRA/Sinn Fein behind bars. Becausehe chose to protect those in the IRA Army Council they were left free to continue to murder, maim, rob and intimidate their way to an amnesty for themselves and their fellow terrorists. Now the leaders of IRA/Sinn Fein are looking forward to holding office.

Of course, I expect to be reminded of Christ's injunction to forgive our enemies. But I have to remember that on the cross He asked God to forgive them because "they know not what they do".

Magee knew. Because he did not repent others have died.

I can no more forgive a sinner who does not repent than a priest. That is a matter for God. The sooner Mr Magee meets Him the better.

In the meantime I suppose we must be grateful that the July London bombers killed themselves. At least the BBC will not be able to arrange a reunion programme for them with their victims and Miss MacGregor.

I must confess to somepersonal ill towards Mr Magee and all of his murderous friends and employers. I certainly find it distasteful that he seems to have built a celebrity career on the strength of his criminal record and murderous inclinations. But that is not of any great public interest.

What worries me more is that today's terrorists will interpret this programme like the shameful wimpishness of the naval prisoners taken captive by Iran as symptomatic of the weakness, decadence and lack of resolve in British society.

As ever the weakness of the victim will enlarge the appetite of the terrorist. As we said during the Second World War: "Careless talk costs lives."

© The Daily Telegraph

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